NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Pisces
April 22-May 5, 2023
Mission: SEAMAP Reef Fish
Geographic Area of Cruise: Gulf of Mexico
Date: April 29, 2023
Temperature: 66 degrees F
Wind: 25 kt.
Waves: 4-6 ft.
Science and Technology Log
As we travel along the coastal shelf of Texas to Louisiana, scientists have already mapped out drop sites for the Sphere Cameras. There are five cameras that have a 360 degree view, one camera is stereo paired for measurements, and one is facing straight up. The cameras are attached to a rosette (cage), as well as bait to attract fish. Once the cameras are dropped in their designated location they will record for approximately 30 minutes. It is a process dropping the cameras in and picking them up that both the scientists and deck crew all have to help out with. It is hard to believe that by the end of their mission (Legs 1-4) they will have done this over and over around 500 times. Once all footage is collected from the day and downloaded it is then stitched together. This information allows scientist to see a number of things including biodiversity, distributions, and habitat classifications. This is helpful because it is also a much less invasive way for scientists to collect data.
Tony VanCampen, Electronics Technician
Tony is responsible for anything electronic. This could include things like wind, temperature and pressure sensors, electronic connections for the scientific computer systems, and GPS position for mapping. He states, “Anything that can be recorded for future data collection accuracy is very important.” Tony is also in charge of letting others know if the ship needs help. Tony has been on several ships in his lifetime including spending twenty years in the Navy. When Tony retires he hopes to work at a train museum in New York, due to his fascination with trains. He has been a great person to talk to while on this journey and is always willing to give me any information I ask. He even took time out to give me a tour of the bridge and flying bridge, as well as giving me several lesson ideas of coding for my students.
Chris Rowley, Lead Fisherman
Chris is the lead fisherman on Pisces. His job is to assist the scientists in deploying cameras and CDT, and anything else needed. NOAA provides great benefits to support his family. Chris also is a coxswain who drives the Fast Rescue Boat (FRB) if needed. He is also part of the fire drill and you can see him in the pictures below during the drill. Chris lives in Louisiana and enjoys spending any off time he has with his twin daughters and wife.
Student Questions of the Day for Tony and Chris
Alivia and Tucker ask: How many different ships have you been on?
Tony was a great one to answer this question. Tony was on two naval ships, and eight different NOAA ships. I would say he has had a lot of experience in maritime.
Aryan and Alivia ask: When did you start working for NOAA?
In 2004 Tony started working for NOAA.
Maverick asks: What do you do in your free time?
Tony enjoys woodworking, religious teaching, and is involved with a food bank rescue ministry when he isn’t out to sea.
Konnor asked: What did you do before this job?
Chris started in High School working in the summers on shrimp boats as a deckhand in Louisiana. Before working for NOAA, he worked several years on offshore supply vessels (OSV).
Holden, Karson, Gary, Macie, Zane, Haylee, and Liam ask: What is the coolest and largest thing you have seen in the ocean?
Chris states that at night, while working on the supply vessels, lights would shine in the dark water and he saw an albino barracuda. The largest marine life he has seen has been a whale shark and he has seen several orcas.
Meela and Parker ask: Do you get lonely and do you get personal time?
Chris works out on the ocean over nine plus months out of the year. He looks forward to vacation where he can spend more time with his family back home. The ship now has internet that helps keep them in touch with family.
Last night we had to start working our way inland about 20 miles offshore, due to a large storm out in the Gulf. Tomorrow we plan to head back out towards our mission locations to continue where we left off. We have been tracking the storm for a few days and knew that we would need to go somewhere due to the heavy winds and waves. Since we can’t deploy cameras at our designated locations, everyone is using this day as a catch up day. We also did fire drills and abandon ship drills today. Safety is a huge priority on the ship, and I am confident that if there were to ever be an emergency situation, that everyone on Pisces would handle it excellently. I am taking advantage and downloading photos and working on the blog today, and checking in with my students work back home. Yesterday was amazing! I love getting my hands dirty and take every chance I can get to help cut bait for the baited cameras. I got to see my first whale at sea, and I have had the opportunity to see dolphins a few times now. I find myself often looking for marine life. There are always amazing sunsets at the ocean.